European Council adopts package of new anti-money laundering rules

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Today, the European Council adopted new anti-money-laundering regulations to protect EU citizens and the financial system from money laundering and terrorism financing.

The new package transfers all private sector rules to a directly applicable regulation, while a directive will organise national authorities fighting money laundering and terrorism financing (AML/CFT).

For the first time, the regulation harmonises anti-money laundering rules across the EU, closing fraud loopholes. It extends these rules to the crypto sector, luxury goods traders, and football clubs, imposes stricter due diligence, regulates beneficial ownership, and limits cash payments to €10,000.

The directive improves the organisation of national AML systems, defining cooperation between financial intelligence units (FIUs) and supervisors. It also establishes the European Authority for Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AMLA), with direct and indirect supervisory powers over high-risk entities. To ensure compliance, it will impose financial penalties for serious, systematic, or repeated breaches. Additionally, EU member states must provide access to centralised bank account registers via a single access point for FIUs and law enforcement authorities.

The texts will now be published in the EU’s Official Journal and enter into force. The AML regulation will apply in three years, with member states given two to three years to transpose parts of the AML directive. AMLA will begin operations in Frankfurt by mid-2025.

Background On 20 July 2021, the Commission proposed strengthening the EU’s AML/CFT rules, including:

  • A regulation establishing the AMLA with sanctioning powers
  • A regulation for transparent and traceable crypto-asset transfers
  • A regulation on AML requirements for the private sector
  • A directive on national AML mechanisms